Tuscan wine is often synonymous with the Chianti wines that are widely produced in the region. These wines are famous for having bold flavors and pairing perfectly with food. But the bountiful and diverse region of Tuscany produces many beautiful wines that are just-as-good-if-not-better than Chianti. From the hills to the coast, here are the top Tuscan wines you should be ordering at a restaurant, trying at home, or drinking on your next tour of Italy.
In a region mostly known for its red vino, Vernaccia di San Gimignano is an enduring white wine that holds its own. The Vernaccia wine grape is mentioned in Dante’s The Divine Comedy, and as early as 1276 in San Gimignano’s records. In the 1600’s, author Francis Scott noted the “fine Vernaccia” goes very well with the towers of San Gimignano.
Yes, Chiantis still rank high on any Italian wine list. This classic Tuscan wine is known for its bold, fruit flavors and a hint of spice that pairs perfectly with food. Especially Tuscan food, like Florentine steak, wild game stew, and hearty bean soups. Chianti Classico must be made from at least 75% Sangiovese grapes, Tuscany’s most prominent grape varietal. Explore a Chianti vineyard with local winemakers and sample some of the region’s fine wines during a tasting on our Food & Wine: Piedmont & Tuscany with America’s Test Kitchen tour.
Our partnership brings celebrity chefs from America’s Test Kitchen and food lovers on the road to discover (and taste) the best of Italy. “This tour doesn’t make you feel like a tourist,” said staffer Marina. “You visit the private homes of the vineyards and talk to top experts that I never would have been able to find on my own. It feels like a true Italian cultural experience.”
The coastal region of Maremma with its rugged hills, sandy beaches, and volcanoes is where you’ll find the sought-after Super Tuscan wines. The rebel of the group, the Super Tuscans claim to fame is blending French varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, with the local Sangiovese grapes. The most famous wines from this small-but-mighty wine region are Sassicaia, Ornellaia, Tua Rita, and Petra.
Microclimates created by sun exposure and altitude produce unique terroirs for wines throughout Tuscany. Terroir is the flavor imparted on wine by its environment including soil, topography, and climate. All Brunello di Montalcino wine is made exclusively from Sangiovese grapes grown on the slopes around Montalcino. This traditional Tuscan hilltop village produces the largest size of the Sangiovese grape varietal. These grapes are aged for at least four years, two of which have to be in oak barrels.
Brunello di Montalcino must be made from 100% Sangiovese grapes. “After trying Brunello di Montalcino while on tour in Florence, it quickly earned a top-tier spot on my list of favorite wines,” said staffer Emily. “It has the buttery smoothness of a Pinot Noir, with the big bold flavors you expect of Italian red wines.”
Montepulciano is the birthplace of wines enjoyed in centuries past by noblemen (ahem ‘vino nobile’). Popes and royalty made the region’s wine famous, but its popularity has endured thanks to its acidity and uniquely spicy flavors. High-fat content foods like pork ragu help cut the acidity of the vino nobile, adding to its richness. Fit for a king and fit for you, this is a wine every commoner should enjoy.
The wine’s namesake will often tell you where you should head for a tasting in the Tuscan wine region. Wines from Tuscany are produced in rural towns like Montalcino and San Gimignano. These traditional villages are the perfect backdrop for a Tuscan wine tasting. Visit Montalcino on tour and discover the heart of Italian culture, and why wines from Tuscany are the best in the world.
Agriturismos are independently owned farms in the Italian countryside that provide accommodations on their estates. They provide an authentic experience that allows Italians to share their food and culture in an intimate setting. Stay at an agriturismo near San Gimignano on our Food & Wine: Piedmont & Tuscany with America’s Test Kitchen tour and you’ll enjoy a cooking class and wine tasting on the vineyard grounds.
With transportation to and from remote wine-making villages in the Tuscan countryside, along with tastings led by the wine producers on family vineyards, a guided tour is the most rewarding way to experience the best Italian wines from Tuscany. Add an excursion to have dinner at a Tuscan villa in the countryside accompanied by three wine varietals produced on the estate on our Tuscany Adventure: Lucca, Siena & Maremma tour.
You’ll notice the letters DOCG, DOC, and IGT on Italian wine bottles. What does this mean for Tuscan reds and Tuscan whites? The letters act as an Italian wine guide designating the quality and authenticity of local vino. DOCG stands for Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (Denomination of Controlled and Guaranteed Origin) and is the highest designation conferred, and the most regulated. These regulations authenticate the geographic location of the wine produced, among many other factors. DOC, Denomination of Controlled Origin, and IGT, Typical Geographical Indication, are the other seals of approval you can look for from the Italian Ministry of Agriculture.